• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

New stores, restaurants open for business in Versailles

RETAIL BUSINESSES, including Petco and KORT Physical Therapy, are open in the new Kroger Marketplace shopping center on Lexington Road. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

An eclectic mix of retail stores and restaurants are located along the Lexington Road corridor between Main Street in downtown Versailles and Huntertown Road, east of town. Many of the newest shopping and dining options are located in a Lexington Road shopping center anchored by a Kroger Martketplace Store, which opened in July 2015. An AutoZone, Burger King, Bojangles', Petco, KORT Physical Therapy and Starbucks came to Versailles and located in the Kroger Marketplace shopping center. Bluegrass Commons was also a magnet for retail businesses relocating there from other locations in Versailles - most notably from the Lexington Road Plaza where Kroger had been the anchor store. Papa John's Pizza, an AT&T Store and a Great Clips were among the retail businesses that followed Kroger to its new location in Versailles. These relocation opportunities give the owners of older shopping centers incentive to make improvements to their properties, said Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott. He said the commercial buildings that are left vacant also open up space for startup and low-capital businesses to come here. The former Kroger store remains vacant in the Lexington Road Plaza shopping center, which has a total of 197,668 square-feet of retail space. Constructed in 1993, the old Kroger building was renovated and enlarged in January 2008. "I would be pleased with anybody that filled it, but I think there is a workforce development need," said Traugott, "and I think that property is about the only one (with adequate space and accessibility) that's suited to meet that need." If challenges of moving forward on this workforce development project can be overcome, the mayor envisions an educational space to provide the local workforce with the necessary skills to fill the immediate needs for industrial jobs. "If it's vacant with no plans in 18 months," said Traugott of the old Kroger building, "then I'll probably be a little worried." Kmart now anchors the Lexington Road Plaza, with China Buffet and Cato Fashions occupying smaller retail spaces in the shopping center owned by Brixmor Property Group. A Save-A-Lot grocery store anchors Woodford Plaza. Other retail spaces in that Lexington Road shopping center are occupied by Family Dollar, Workout Anytime and DaVita Dialysis. Traugott said his biggest concerns about Woodford Plaza are its new owner finding a tenant for the old Terry's 5 & 10 location and making much-needed repairs to the shopping center's parking lots. "It's such a high-profile area," he said, "you want it to look nice." Community Trust Bank, Inc., sold the property at 480 Lexington Road to Woodford Plaza Shopping Center, LLC, (Robert M. Collins, member), for $2.335 million, according to an October 2015 deed filed in the Woodford County clerk's office. Collins declined an invitation by The Sun to discuss any future plans for the Lexington Road shopping center. Traugott described the current owner of Woodford Plaza as "a serious property owner, and I think that will bode well for the future of it." Save-A-Lot shopper and lifelong Woodford County resident Tammy Hulette shares Traugott's optimism about Woodford Plaza. "I'm sure sooner or later something's going to move in here," she said. Her optimism arises from all of the other stores and restaurants choosing to come to Versailles in recent months. "You don't want a whole bunch of vacant buildings that's for sure," said Versailles resident Frank Heim. But he also said vacant buildings are not a reason why he'd move. Heim has lived in Versailles for nine years. Beth Blevins has lived in Versailles for 10 years. Both say they like living here because of "the small-town feel." Blevins only wishes there were "more mom-and-pop stores instead of bringing in other big-time retail places." Her family seldom eats out, but she would like more choices in Versailles when they do dine out. Heim agreed. "I think we could use more dining options. Shopping, I think it's sufficient," he said. "If you need other stuff, you can get to Lexington or other places - it's not that far to go." Asked what they'd like to see come to Versailles, Heim and Hulette agreed. "I'd like to have a Walmart here," said Hulette. "A Walmart would be nice," said Heim, "because they offer a lot more selection of things than" other retail options in Versailles. Both regularly shop at America's largest retailer, but now they must drive to Frankfort, Lawrenceburg or Lexington. "If I need to go to Walmart," said Blevins, "I'll go to Lexington or Frankfort, but I never have to go to Walmart. Or I buy online a lot." Overall, Heim said he's satisfied with his grocery store options in Versailles, but would like more shopping options for non-grocery items. "I'm glad we're growing," said Hulette, "but we need a Walmart."

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